I am Chris LeBeau, a long time RUSA/BRASS member. I am the Research & Liaison Librarian for the Henry Bloch School of Management at the University of Missouri-Kansas City. I'm sharing my career with RUSA this week.
From a history major in college, I followed a path through various types of libraries to a career in academic libraries. While working at Creighton University I earned my MBA thru a free tuition remission program and later came to UMKC. Now I am heavily engaged in work with the Entrepreneurship programs for undergraduates, master's level and doctoral students who keep me running. There are of course other business programs. I spend the first 6 weeks of the semester running from class to class, teaching hundreds of students every year. The rest of the semester I help students with their research needs - finding market reports, using GIS to identify viable business locations, studying industries, etc. I also work a few hours on the public information desk responding to everything from literary criticism to biology. You have to draw on everything you ever learned in school!
I also volunteer in the Kauffman Foundation programs for displaced workers and socio-economically challenged entrepreneurs. It’s a little part I can play in trying to help economic development in the city. I also work closely with the business librarians at the four great public libraries in Kansas City.
I also do some book reviewing for Choice, national and regional conference presentations, some authoring, and I’m very involved in RUSA and BRASS. It’s very easy to participate, and I have so enjoyed what I call the BRASS "brain trust." I have the best bunch of colleagues one could find; the professional development opportunities are rich and member driven.
The other half of my job is on faculty of the Univ. of Missouri, School of Information Science & Learning Technologies, a new iSchool. There I teach a full load of graduate courses including Copyright and MGT of Electronic Resources. Because I teach Copyright, I also sit on the copyright Support Team at the UMKC library. So my days and nights are also filled with lecture writing, Blackboard discussions and grading which I am badly behind on.
My introductory video (7 min)
Chris LeBeau Assistant Teaching Professor University of Missouri School of Information Science & Learning Technologies & Business Librarian UMKC
What do you feel has been unexpected in your job, the most different from what you were prepared to do when you graduated with your MLS?
M. Kathleen Kern
Well without dating myself too much! LOL, I never expected to be tied to a computer for as many hours as I am each day! But that is where most of the action is.
Other unexpected things? I think we have to start with Google, and who knows where that will ultimately go. Also the unexpected includes the evolution of the Web and all sorts of linking technologies like OpenURL and html protocols. I was a generalist academic librarian for many years, but then my career took a twist, and I moved into business librarianship. I really enjoy being able to take patrons deeper into their subject as a disciplinary specialist. I think if we are going to stay relevant, we need to develop specialties like these. The Web has upped the ante.
I use my business background to discuss business ideas with students. I am often a sounding board for them. It is so exciting to see students shape a business idea and to be part of it, especially when it helps our community.
I also love the professional conferences, travel and working with my colleagues from all over the nation. I'm the only business librarian at my university, so I need their support from time to time.
Where do you see the future of librarianship in general and reference and user services going in the next 5 years?
Sarah J. Hammill
2012 RSS Chair
Oh ask me a tough question! LOL. We can't even predict what technology will bring three years out, so it's hard to say. The iPad has been around barely three years, yet look what an impact it has had. Technology and tools impact how we deliver service, take for example e-books. Kansas City was the first city to receive Google Fiber, and local library directors are visioning new ways to deliver services. But type of library also makes a difference - public or academic chiefly. I think we will always have under-served populations that require more traditional approaches to service, yet these populations need help stepping into the digital age. I actually find myself teaching people how to use Google better. For those on the other side of the digital divide, we need to find ways to connect users to information in ways Google cannot. In other words we need to offer more value-added service which may require librarians with more specializations. We need to find the niches where we can fill the voids in our communities whether it's promoting community dialog on local issues, forming interest groups or reading groups or providing maker space. Could libraries fill a void left by defunct newspapers in some towns? The possibilities are endless, the future for user services is ours to shape. Are you sorry you asked? I could talk about this for a long time.
Great answer! I really like the idea of thinking about how libraries may have opportunities to fill the void left by defunct newspapers. Perhaps we can begin to collect the ephemera that exists around communities and somehow preserve it but also share it with the broader audience!
In your intro you mention "I also work closely with the business librarians at the four great public libraries in Kansas City."
How did that come about and what sorts of things do you do?
I am not a subject librarian and I don't do any work with my local public librarians. Without RUSA I'd know almost no one who worked in a different type of library, so this is interesting to me.
I think I only had this idea because of RUSA! In my work with RUSA and BRASS, I work with public and academic librarians. It used to be that business librarians at public libraries dealt with very different sorts of questions from academic, but things are changing. Entrepreneurship is in air everywhere, and the worlds of public and academic business librarians are converging. One local business librarian is a former student of my Missouri program too, so that helped. So I decided to bring together the business librarians from the four large public libraries in Kansas City to talk about how we help entrepreneurs. As a faculty member in a library science program, I worked with the Mid-Continent Public Library to bring a series of business classes to a local bank. Mid-Continent has an exceptionally healthy set of business databases. I used the public library's free databases to show bankers how they could use these in their daily work. Mid-Continent provided library cards on site for all the bank's staff. It was fun for me to think about the functions of banking, like mortgage lending and wealth management, and apply particular databases to those functional areas. This is an example of the extra value specialization brings. And this was a great public-academic collaboration.
Hello, as a new MLIS Student at Rutgers, and someone who also currently holds an MBA, I was very interested to hear your perspective on life a a Business Librarian.
I wish to follow a similar path, and was pleased to hear you advise someone like me to take classes in Instruction.
So, any advice on how to land an internship with a business library while holding a full-time position in a non-related field? (Supply Chain & Logistics) Luckily, I live in the Philadelphia suburbs and there are quite a few business libraries in the area.
Good to hear from you! Getting an internship shouldn't be hard at all. I looked at your Rutgers curriculum assuming you are in the Library & Information Science Program. It looks like there is a "Field Experience" course, but I can't tell if it is required. It's probably equivalent to MU's Practicum which we do require. Our students can choose where they want to be placed. I would line up a semester of field experience in any good business library in your area. Your job in Supply Chain & Logistics is very relevant! Our students do not get paid for this sort of work.
Field experience can be a problem if you have a full time job, although check out whether it is a 90 cr hr or 120 cr hr thing. It could amount to just 5 or 10 hours per week depending on how many weeks you stretch it out for. You may have to talk your boss into some flex time. The biggest issue with trying to work full time and do field experience is that you don't have complete availability to be present for the wide variety of experiences that arise - certain meetings, classes you might teach or observe, speakers, etc. Field experience is wonderful and often leads to a placement if you're lucky. I'm sure your advisor can help you find a strategy that works for you.
If nothing opens up quickly, do sign up for BRASS where we share info about business job openings, get on the BUSLIB-L listserv, the ALA job listserv and check out this guide, http://libguides.library.umkc.edu/libraryjobs. It's a little localized for my students, but you may find some useful things. Good luck, maybe I'll see you at ALA sometime! Thanks for writing.